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Taste


G
reen goo doesn’t always look that appetizing, but trust me, you want to try this stuff. 

I’m a bit of a hummus fiend, and have always LOVED the milder taste of the edamame hummus from Trader Joes. So last night, I decided to try my hand at it. It’s super easy — I just replaced edamame beans for chickpeas in my standard hummus recipe, added garlic, and a tiny bit of red pepper flakes. 

The result was a bright, pistachio green spread that tasted truly delicious. It definitely tastes like hummus… but slightly less bean like (does that make sense?). I spread a few spoonfuls onto a fresh baguette to accompany a kale salad (with cherry tomatoes, avocado, dried cranberries and roasted chickpeas) for dinner. 

The rest was stored in a handy Bonne Maman jar for later snacking. Yum!

Happy weekend everyone! xo

Fogust food:

Oh the past few weeks have been absolutely awful in San Francisco. If I didn’t work on the Peninsula, I’d have no idea it was even summer. It sort of started to clear up this week, but our usual summer fog has been especially dreary this August (Fogust!).

Of course, soup is the only remedy for this gloomy weather.

I love making soup at any time of year (San Francisco weather is so mild, there’s rarely a day when it’s too hot for soup). It’s so easy — just plop a bunch of stuff into vegetable broth, simmer and enjoy! A few nights ago, I decided to make a really simple spinach soup using some vegetables I had on hand. 

Ingredients:
1/2 yellow or white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 carrots, diced
4 cups chopped spinach
2 cups brown rice
1 can cannellini beans
4 cups vegetable broth (I usually do half broth half water, so my broth stretches out more)
salt, pepper to taste

optional…
sprinkle of parmesan
oregano
red pepper flakes

There’s not a lot you need to know to make this soup — and it’s one of those soups that’s super flexible, and can be adjusted with different ingredients (quinoa for the rice, kale for the spinach, etc.) and seasoned in a million different ways. 

I always start out soups the same way — seasonings and ingredients that need the most cooking into the pan first. I sautéed the onions and carrots in olive oil with garlic, red pepper flakes (I like all of my food to have a little kick), oregano and plenty of salt to start off. I might be making this up, but I feel like putting in the seasoning this way really gets the flavor moving throughout the entire soup. 

Next I add the beans in, and cook them until some of them start to get juuuuusttt a little crust on the bottom of the pan. Then I add in the broth (like I mentioned, I do 2 cups water, 2 cups broth, but that’s just me. It makes my veggie broth last longer, and I don’t think it effects the taste at all), and bring it to a rolling boil. 

In the meantime, I cook my rice. Usually I have some good wild rice on hand, but I had run out and didn’t feel like spending 40 minutes cooking it on a weeknight, so I cheated and got the pre-made stuff. I always cook the rice separately, and then let people scoop in the amount they want. I always have a lot of leftovers (the best part!), and I’ve found grains REALLY expand when left overnight in the broth. And this soup really isn’t as appealing when it becomes sloppy rice goop. 

Let the soup boil for 5-10 minutes (I never cook my soup that long. One of my co-workers gave me the hardest time, saying he cooks his for 2 hours minimum. But I’m impatient), and then bring it down to a simmer. Take the spinach and stir it all in. Let it simmer for another couple minutes, give it a good taste, and add extra seasoning if needed. 

(Note: If you don’t have any rice, I feel like this soup would taste amazing with an egg poached in it)

Voila! That’s it. I like to top mine with a healthy scoop of parmesan cheese, a spoonful of harissa (I told you I like spice) and some freshly ground pepper.

Yum! The perfect cure for Fogust. 

On a slightly related note, I’ve recently discovered an amazing solution for all my leftover vegetable scraps. We have a compost bin, but it doesn’t work very well and smells gross, but I feel terrible throwing all of my vegetable scraps away after cooking. Thanks to a tip on a favorite blog, I’m now freezing all of my vegetable scraps in a giant tupperware to make a future giant batch of homemade vegetable stock! I’ve just started saving, so I’ll let you know how it goes. 

xo

Sunday dinners are always kind of special. Sometimes, if we’re feeling lazy, we’ll make the trek to one of our favorite restaurants — tapas, Delarosa, or something new.

But if I can get my act together, I like to take the extra time and put together something delicious. I’ve been craving fish lately, so a simple salmon dish seemed like a good, light ending to our slightly decadent weekend.

Ingredients:

2 small fillets of wild salmon (I like to have them leave the skin on, but it’s up to you)
1 small bundle of asparagus
Handful of marble potatoes
1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbs unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste

It’s pretty simple — butter the bottom of a glass or ceramic dish, and place halved marble potatoes face down in the bottom. I sprinkled them liberally with salt, pepper and crushed garlic. What I WISH I had done was bake these little potatoes for a bit first. They still turned out fine, but if you like yours really well done like me, I’d recommend popping just the potatoes into the oven for 15-20 minutes before putting everything else in. 

Then, top with the salmon fillets (skin side down) with a lemon slice on top of each. I covered the fillets with asparagus, did an extra squirt of lemon juice, wrapped the entire dish in tin foil, and put it in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or so. 

Voila! The potatoes got crispy and kind of meld with the salmon and asparagus, which is delicious. The garlic roasts, and the asparagus and salmon were perfectly tender. 

I sprinkled a little rosemary on top for that extra something, but other than that — serve as is. 

xo

My urban herb (sort-of) garden:

I love to garden — my mom had the most amazing garden when we were younger — but my little apartment is seriously lacking in the outdoor department — as of now I’m limited to my firescape and windowsills. Herb seedlings don’t seem to thrive particularly well on my kitchen windowsill (my struggling basil sprouts were just embarrassing), but this solution seems to work perfectly. 

Whenever I need to buy herbs, I buy a particularly big bunch from the farmer’s market or Whole Foods. I use what I need, and then take the rest for my bottle herb garden. It’s simple — just fill a jar with water. Then, take the herbs, and cut a couple centimeters off the bottom stems while running them under cool water (I have no idea why this works, but it does). Put them in the water, making sure that no stems with leaves are submerged. A few strands may wilt, but I’ve found this to be incredibly successful. 

For whatever reason, basil seems to take to this damp environment very well. I’ve been keeping basil on hand like this since college. See — it’s already grown full blown roots after a week and a half! 

The nice thing about this is that you rarely have to refill the jars with water, they look pretty in your kitchen (smell great too), and don’t have any of the mess and dirt that comes with potted herbs.

Plus, it’s cheap. And that makes anything worth attempting in my book. 

xo

I’ve been craving Mexican food like crazy lately. But since that usually involves bean and cheese burritos (at least for me) and feeling slightly terrible afterwards, I’ve decided to take a different approach:

I had a few ears of corn, some cucumber and some peppers from the Farmer’s market left in the fridge, and Kelly’s boss had just given us some amazing tomatoes from her garden. I picked up some radishes from the store (Am I the only one obsessed with radishes lately?) and decided to whip up a healthy, Mexican-style salad.

You could cook the corn if you want, but I like it extra crunchy (and this corn was really sweet and delicious), so I just shaved it raw off the cob with a knife. 

Then I chopped up all my veggies and added them in. I may or may not have eaten half my cucumber along the way. 

Next, a simple dressing. I thought I had a lemon (which would’ve been WAY better), but made do with white vinegar. I added a crushed garlic glove, a healthy dash of cumin, and a good sprinkle of Tapatio for spice. 

Feta, basil, and a half cup of cooked quinoa were added in at the last minute, along with the dressing. A few good tosses later, and it was ready to serve. 

I decided to put a few crushed up tortilla chips on top for extra crunch, and LOTS of Tapatio (I like my spice), but that’s optional, of course.

Super easy, only took about 15 minutes and there were plenty of leftovers for lunch today. Next time I’m going to try mixing in some avocado and cilantro for a slightly different twist. 

xo

Glimpses from my Sunday:

1. Meandering through the Fort Mason community garden …

For SF residents, this hidden gem behind Fort Mason park is well worth visiting. Locals have their own plots — now bursting with blooms and produce — that they care for throughout the year.

The whole garden is open to the public to enjoy — benches, tables and grills are littered throughout to encourage people to take advantage of the park.

It’s amazing what’s growing here — in the middle of the city. Beans, tomatoes, corn, herbs, squash, beets, carrots, lettuces and every type of flower, grass and succulent imaginable.

There’s a greenhouse for more delicate flowers.

Patches of succulents fill up any potential empty space.

A shaded potting shed protects hard working gardeners from the sun’s rays.

It’s like a quirky, edible version of the Secret Garden. I definitely plan on taking a book and an iced tea there on another sunny Sunday.

2. Fort Mason Farmer’s Market

I love this little farmer’s market — I can always find everything I need there. There’s just as much of a variety as the Ferry Building Market — but without the crowds.

My mom used to buy this wildflower salad mix for us at the farmer’s market in Los Gatos. It’s always on my list when I go to one of the markets in the city. 

I love tomato season. 

Nectarines in every color, shape and size are just begging to be put in a cobbler or tart. 

I was really tempted to buy the squash blossoms, but settled on some strawberries and a baguette instead. 

3. A casual summer meal. 

Sometimes I get super motivated on Sunday nights and whip up a fancy dinner for myself and Kelly. But this Sunday, all that farmer’s market produce needed to shine in a simple salad, accompanied by a baguette and cheese. 

This jar of pickled green beans from Happy Girl Kitchen may have been one of my best food purchases ever. 

This meal is just like the ones that Kelly and I ate every night when we were in Paris — just without the additional two bottles of wine. 

xo

I’m a big hummus fan. It’s perfect for snacks and makes every sandwich better. The problem is, it can be pretty fattening when store bought, and expensive too (you don’t want to know how much money I was spending on hummus). 

When I got a food processor for Christmas, I decided to start experimenting with hummus recipes. I wanted the perfect consistency and flavor, but without all of the heavy oil and crazy calorie count. After much trial and error, I’ve finally perfected my hummus. It’s delicious, doesn’t require any olive oil (unless you want some) and it doesn’t cost much more than a can of garbanzo beans.

Ingredients:

1 can of garbanzo beans, drained, liquid reserved

1/2 cup of tahini

2 tablespoons of harissa

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons paprika

1 garlic clove

olive oil for serving (optional)

So, when I first tried to make hummus, I just dumped garbanzo beans and olive oil into the food processor and blended it into a pureé. I thought that’s all it took, and was unpleasantly surprised when it came out with the consistency of dried Elmer’s glue. 

A hundred Google searches and test batches later, I discovered the secret to fluffy, perfect hummus: whipping the tahini. This ground sesame paste makes or breaks a hummus (in my opinion). The key is to get it light and fluffy. I put a half cup of tahini into my food processor, along with a 1/4 cup or so of the reserved garbanzo beans liquid. After a minute or so of processing, the liquid and the tahini whip together for a lighter consistency.

I usually mix it up a bit with my spoon and then process it for another 30 seconds after the first minute — it makes a big difference. You can also use lemon juice, or just plain ol’ water instead of the leftover garbanzo liquid.

After that, it’s just a matter of choosing your accoutrements. I’m a spicy hummus gal, so I invested in a big jar of harissa and use a few tablespoons in each batch. It adds some color, and the perfect Middle Eastern spice. I also like to add paprika for a little extra flavor. Lemon peel, herbs, garlic and kalamata olives are all great add-ins too.

I add all of my flavored items into the food processor, and dump in the drained garbanzo beans — then hit the power.

After the first couple minutes of blending, it usually looks like this. Some people like hummus this thick, but I like it SUPER whipped and fluffy, so I like to add a few more tablespoons of the garbanzo bean liquid in to make it really smooth and light. 

Another minute, and it’s perfect! The harissa makes it bright orange, which I kind of like. 

I always try to keep some pita bread in the freezer, so I warm it up in the oven (I cannot believe we haven’t had a microwave for almost 2 years now!) to get it really toasty, and serve it warm with the hummus. I usually have some carrots or cucumbers  on hand too. 

I find the hummus keeps for a week to a week and a half in a mason jar in the fridge before it starts getting a little stale.

Enjoy!

xo 

Fourth of July 2012 meant:

1. Going on a sunny motorcycle ride to Baker Beach

2. Failing to find a BBQ at said beach, so heading home to cook up our meal:

Buying the herbed butter was an amazing accident.

Salmon burgers with garlic, cilantro, teriyaki sauce and avocado; corn with herb butter; roasted asparagus; homemade ice cream sandwiches for dessert

3. Getting ridiculously full and dragging a blanket out to a quiet corner of Fort Mason for a long nap.

Kelly fell asleep in about 30 seconds.

4. Walking up to the tippy top of Russian Hill where we got a clear (and uncrowded) view of the fireworks from the Alice Marble tennis courts. 

Chain-linked view of the North Beach fireworks show

xo

Summer is salad season.
Here are some of my favorites lately:  

Heirloom tomatoes, broiled with goat cheese on top. Mixed greens, avocado, fresh corn, roasted pepitas and dried cranberries.

Can’t get enough of this one lately: Asparagus, chiogga beet, red onion and feta. 

Golden beets, carrot/almond/currant salad, green onions, pepitas, mixed greens. 

All mixed with my standard go-to vinaigrette: red wine vinegar, 1 garlic clove (smashed once with a knife), olive oil, dijon and salt/pepper. 

xo

NYC Recap: EAT

I would say that about 75% of my time in New York was spent eating. The other 25% was spent walking around, shopping, and drinking wine. 

I think that’s how most vacations should be spent, don’t you? 

Here’s a few of my favorite foodie highlights:

A cheese display straight from Heaven at Eataly. 

Breakfast at DeKalb Market in Brooklyn. Kelly got an amazing chicken sandwich, and I chomped on a veggie omelet. Aaaaand then we shared a cupcake (even breakfast has dessert when you’re on vacation). 

Best. Cookie. Ever. 

Amazing veggie meatballs from The Meatball Shop

And a mushroom burger from Shake Shack (I wolfed this down so quickly, this is the only shot I got. The center was literally a ball of melted cheese. I just about died)

Among other highlights (which didn’t get photos): A steaming bowl of pho in Chinatown, massive sweet potato pancakes with cinnamon butter in Crown Heights, and delicious Mediterranean food at Balaboosta. 

More photos of our NYC adventures to come soon!

xo